Why making Michael Edwards top dog at Liverpool post-Klopp makes a lot of sense

A period of transition is just around the corner for Liverpool and it appears to be going under the radar.

Jurgen Klopp’s impending departure doesn’t just mean there’s a managerial void to be filled, there’s also a lot of power behind the scenes that will be relinquished and the owners need to ensure the right person absorbs it.

While the focus from many appears to be on who will succeed the German tactician, it really is irrelevant if everything behind the scenes isn’t properly in place. Xabi Alonso could come in and flop, purely because the Reds don’t have the right set-up to ensure he succeeds. It is that simple.

Since Julian Ward’s departure, the Reds haven’t had a traditional sporting director in place. Jorg Schmadtke was brought in to help in the interim but he’s publicly acknowledged the fact he’s more of an 'assistant' to Klopp than a proper director of football.

Now, for there to be sustained success at a top club, there needs to be a set identity from top to bottom. A sporting director is usually the one to implement this. They aren’t just there to negotiate for transfers and to sort contracts. They come up with a vision and put the right people in place for this to be executed.

So while it is all well and good saying Alonso is the perfect fit, he might well be, but there needs to be a process in place before his arrival so he knows exactly what he’s signing up for. Everyone needs to be on the same page if the club is to be successful.

FSG have been trying to find a poster boy for their project and if reports are to be believed, they are yet to be impressed by any of the candidates. That is why they looked to bring Michael Edwards back into the fold. The former Liverpool sporting director rebuffed their initial efforts but it is now claimed he would be willing to return if he was given complete control over the football side of things.

Previously, he was in a senior role with the Merseyside club but he wasn’t the top dog. FSG president Mike Gordon had the final say on the financial side of things, for example. In the previous set-up, there was a world in which the manager could go behind the sporting director’s back and straight to Gordon to get something done. That isn’t to say that is what happened but some signs point to it.

FSG president Mike Gordon (left) alongside Liverpool owner John W Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry.

Jordan Henderson wasn’t due a new contract in 2021 and all of the talk was that he wouldn’t be offered one. He kicked up a bit of a fuss in the media and, in the end, Klopp intervened and said a new contract would be offered as he wanted the skipper to stay. With the manager being so public like that, it would’ve been impossible for the club not to give in to those demands, even if that wasn’t the plan. And the former BVB boss did wield a lot of power. Granted, it was power he had earned having won everything as Liverpool manager, but it must’ve muddied the waters a little.

Would FSG really risk upsetting the manager? It has been mentioned on countless occasions that Gordon and Klopp have a good relationship. It was no doubt a relationship Klopp felt he could leverage when he needed to, bypassing the sporting director and essentially nullifying the entire model.

It is likely how Klopp ended up in the position he now finds himself in as the de facto sporting director. You don’t need someone in that role permanently if the manager is doing that job. And most candidates won’t have wanted to take up the role given the limitations that would’ve been in place.

Edwards, rightfully, would want to prevent that from happening again. The data model FSG claimed to be wed to only works if you keep the processes in place and remove emotion. Managers get too attached to players and it makes it hard to part ways with them. If the decision isn’t with the manager, things are more ruthless but they are more efficient and better for the long-term health of the club.

Liverpool needed Klopp to get them into the position they now find themselves in. Another Klopp would be nice but reverting back to the original model might be the best way to go because charismatic German managers who just get the club don’t go on trees.

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